The old adage is that preseason means nothing and for the large part that holds true. Starters see limited action, coaches call limited plays to not show their hand and a majority of the game time is filled with players that are out on the street looking for jobs now. As much as it seems like the preseason is meaningless sometimes theres things you just cant ignore. After watching and rewatching games and looking at the stats here are a few of those things.
For the most part, other then a few stand out players here and there, we've been waiting for a complete defense since the mid to late 1990s. Early in this season I think that identity of having a tough, hardnosed defense that can compete may slowly be coming back. Throughout the preseason games Clancy has been putting the playbook away before the first half but even so there's some facts that seem promising and can't be ignored.
Despite numerous times being put in tough situations due to turnovers or lack of efficiency on offense the defense has for the large part come through. Again people are going to say "That doesnt mean much its the preseason" but some of these stats can be used as a precursor of whats to come.
1. This preseason the defense gave up a miniscule 16 points per game, which finished good for 9th best in the league. Compare that to last years 22 points per game which was good enough for 27th best. Add to that the quality of offenses that we played in last years league best Houston team, a very versatile Viking offense and a Seattle offense that ranks out pretty high when Hasselback is in the mix.
2. The run defense, which has been a major concern the last few years, was probably the biggest surprise this preseason. After being in the bottom two last regular season and giving up a 24 ranked 130.2 yards/game last preseason the Chiefs defense gave up only 97 yards/game good for 9th in the league. All this was also done while having the third most rushing attempts against in the entire league.
The more telling stat when it comes to rush defense is we gave up a league low, thats right #1 in a defensive category, 3.1 yards/carry this preseason compared to an awful 4.9 yards/carry last preseason which carried into the regular season. Again this is against three very good rushing teams.
A couple other eye catching stats with regards to run defense. How about the longest run we gave up all preseason was 14 yards, and giving up only 14 rushing first downs for again a league low 11%.
3. The pass defense is still something that's being worked on but there was alot of prevent D being played. The one obvious positive was our pressure on the QB. Its clear to see that it has drastically improved over last year and the 7 sacks in the 4 games was hopefully a display of whats to come.
The offense is clearly a work in progress. Our starting and clearly best QB hasnt been able to get as much action as we wouldve liked, the offensive line is still being juggled to find the right players as we speak, and we have a new offensive coordinator that trying to install a new offense. It will probably take a few weeks to get settled down and work out some of the issues but in general it's headed in the right direction.
1. The biggest concern, especially after the St.Louis game, has been the finishing and scoring for this team. The other offensive stats are defintely acceptable but the 10.5 points/game for a team thats middle of the league(15th at 317.8 yards/game) for offensive yards isnt acceptable. Early in the preseason it seemed to be Chans non-aggresive play calling and in the Rams game it seemed to be a result of execution. As Haley gets into the groove of being the OC and the players start to gel with his style offense I think this stat will change. If you put up 400+ yards of offense, more often then not you will score alot more then 10 points per game.
2. This team can run the ball again. Despite having a questionable offensive line the Chiefs put up a 9th best 124.8 yards/game. While doing that we averaged a very respectable 4.8 yards/carry average. If this team can acquire an identity of being a tough running team while being tough against the run it will keep us competitive.
3. The most concerning stat to me from the offseason is third down efficiency. It didn't take a stat sheet to tell me it was bad, just watching the games it was evident enough that it wasn't good. Aftrer opening the stat sheet I found out it was scary. The Chiefs managed to convert just 28% of their third downs this preseason, good for 30th in the league. This is definetly something that needs to be addressed and I'm sure it is. Like the points per game I think it's just a matter of execution as we had more then enough opportunities to convert and the execution wasnt there.
For me when it comes to preseason the overall record of 0-4 doesnt mean much other then giving some players the warm fuzzy feeling of winning but once you dissect the games I think there are some telling signs of what you can expect once the games that matter start. Theres a lot of things that can affect these outcomes, good and bad, but in general I think we have an idea of where we're headed. Hopefully a few adjustments to the roster and players stepping up can improve some of the bad stats and hopefully in the areas that we're doing well players will stay committed to what they're doing and keep that momentum headed into the season.